Staff launches new Black History Month initiative


Fiona Duke

Excel TECC teacher Michael Caldwell lays out the newly printed designs for Black History Month posters in his classroom. A total of 11 posters will be displayed outside the main office.

Alex Hliatzos, Staff Writer

Mayfield High School is getting new posters of prominent African-American figures for Black History Month.

Excel TECC Interactive Media teacher Michael Caldwell said that he was inspired to lead a new initiative after seeing that the posters had been taken down earlier this month. He said, “When [the posters] all came down, they unleashed the artist in me, because once my creative inspiration saw that wall empty again, I immediately started saying to myself, ‘What could we do to make it better?’ My wheels started turning and I started coming up with new ideas.”

He said that he switched gears and talked with those with the original idea of replacing the posters. “[I was] convincing them that I had a new idea, but it would take a little time, so [we] have this pause so I could gather my materials for my new idea. That is where we’re at now: we’re in the middle of this whole creative process,” he said.

Caldwell said that the new posters will feature contemporary African-American figures. “[We’re] putting people up that could connect more to the students, and to have that connect to the students, not necessarily young people but more contemporary people — people in the field today — not necessarily all alive, but are recent history,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell said he is engaging with staff to help determine which figures to be on the posters. “[We are] going around, talking to different teachers, mostly the department chairs, trying to get a foothold to get ideas,” he said.

Math department chair Lisa Heinl is involved with the selection of the featured African-American figures, and she came up with the idea of having QR codes on the posters. She said, “If people want to know more about this person, they’ll scan the QR code, and that’ll take the person to a link on their phone that they’ll be able to read more about the person that’s being honored on the poster.”

Heinl hopes that featuring contemporary figures will appeal more to the students. “From the math point of view, a lot of the math that students use has been by dead people. So, this is an opportunity for students to see that there’s a lot of math being done by people now that are contemporaries, and on top of that some are African-American.”

According to Heinl, the selected figures tie into classes taught at the high school. “For example, the mathematician that we’re going to look at has a Ph.D in math and played football professionally and at the collegiate level. And in order to get to that level, he had to go through all the math courses we offer here,” she said.

Even though there’s no Black History Month posters on the wall presently, Caldwell said he hopes the school community will understand why. He said, “I would like to see the community recognize that Mayfield has engaged in a learning process about Black History Month instead of just something to look at, and to have had a process where teachers and students were involved in the poster design, where the information that the posters convey is a result of research.”

As for the posters, Caldwell aims to have at least three of them up by the end of this week or the beginning of next week. The posters will be in the same location outside the main office.